Have you Been Charged with Arson in the Second Degree?
Arson is a severe crime and is one that has multiple crimes associated with it. Arson is broken down into three different degrees: first-degree arson, second-degree arson, and third-degree arson. It is irrelevant as to how valuable the property is for first and second-degree arson. However, third-degree arson applies to personal property that has a value of at least $250.00. All degrees of arson are prosecuted as felonies in Georgia. It is important to understand the differences between each degree and how to best defend against the charge. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Arson Attorneys have decades of criminal experience and understand to craft the best defense based on your specific case. Contact our office for a free case evaluation.
Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §16-7-61 Outlines Arson in the Second Degree
A person commits the offense of arson in the second degree as to any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft, or other structure, when, in the commission of a felony or not, by means of fire or explosive, he or she knowingly damages or knowingly causes, aids, abets, advises, encourages, hires, counsels, or procures another to damage any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft, or other structure of another without his or her consent or in which another has a security interest, including but not limited to a mortgage, lien, or a conveyance to secure debt, without the consent of both.
Georgia Case Law
In the case of Crawford v. State, a man was convicted of second-degree arson in Georgia. 318 Ga. App. 270, (2012). The victim had a relationship with the defendant for five years until she ended it in 2010 and began to see someone else. The defendant was very upset that she was involved with someone else. One night, the victim and her new boyfriend heard a noise outside their window and saw defendant running from the back of her house and get into a car and drive away. The victim found her van on fire, and her house also caught on fire because the van was parked so close to her home. During the trial, the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence supporting that he caused the fire that destroyed the van. However, the Court found that the victim seeing him run from her house that night along with evidence that he had threatened her before was sufficient evidence. Therefore he was convicted of arson in the second degree.
Penalty for Arson in the Second Degree in Georgia
A person convicted of arson in the second degree in Georgia shall be punished by a fine of no more than $25,000 or by a prison term between one and ten years, or both.
Furthermore, it will be a felony conviction, which carries far-reaching consequences. Having a felony conviction can make it difficult to find employment, obtain credit, buy a house, and will result in a loss of voting rights.
2nd Degree Arson Defenses in Georgia
It was accidental: Evidence proving that the damage was done without the knowledge of harming or intending to harm would be greatly beneficial to your case.
The damage was not done by fire or explosive: Second-degree arson requires that the destruction is done by fire or explosive. If there is proof that the property was not damaged by one of those ways, then you cannot be guilty of arson. However, you could still be guilty of another crime.
What are Not Defenses
I was not the one to damage the property: You do not have to be the one who actually damages the property to be convicted of second-degree arson. If there is proof that you encouraged, hired, counseled, aided, caused, or advised another to damage the property that will be sufficient.
A conviction for arson in any degree comes with significant consequences. You need legal assistance from the very beginning in order to have a chance at winning your case. The office of Lawson and Berry has over 50 combined years of criminal defense experience, and their attorneys are some of Georgia's best. They are here to answer any questions you may have and to defend you to the best of their ability. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. Remember a charge is not the same as a conviction so do not give up on your case.